Session H14: History and Philosophy of Science

10:45 AM–12:21 PM, Sunday, May 3, 2009
Room: Plaza Court 4

Sponsoring Unit: FHP
Chair: Dan Kleppner, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Abstract ID: BAPS.2009.APR.H14.2

Abstract: H14.00002 : Centrifugation and the Manhattan Project

11:09 AM–11:21 AM

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Author:

  Cameron Reed
    (Alma College)

A study of U. S. Army Manhattan Engineer District documents reveals that consideration of centrifugation as a means of uranium enrichment during World War II was considerably more extensive than is commonly appreciated. By the time the centrifuge project was abandoned in early 1944 a full-scale prototype unit had been fabricated and tested at near-production speeds, enrichments of close to theoretically-expected levels had been demonstrated with pilot-plant units, and plans for production plants had been developed. This paper will review the history of this little-known aspect of the Project and examine the circumstances of how it came to be discontinued.

To cite this abstract, use the following reference: http://meetings.aps.org/link/BAPS.2009.APR.H14.2